The following post is published courtesy of Chandra garu, who kindly gave permission to reprint a version of his article originally posted on May 28, 2014
Just like it has become today, there was a time in the past when being a ‘Telugu’ person was not a matter of pride at all.
In spite of the efforts of Amara Jeevi Potti Sri Ramulu, the ‘Telugu pride’ did not take shape for decades, owing to the subservient culture of the Congress Party in Andhra Pradesh and their oppressive overlords in Delhi. In dark times like that, one man rose to remind our people that they are more than just another ‘safe constituency’ for the Congress Party. He reminded us that our magnificent culture deserves a better place in history. That man was Sri Nandamuri Taraka Ramarao.
NTR reminded the Telugus of their ‘Atmagauravam’ – self-respect – which was forgotten under the misrule of the greedy Congress Party. Atma-gauravam, NTR used to say, is needed because he who doesn’t respect himself doesn’t deserve any respect from others. But unlike the racism seen in Nido Tania’s unfortunate death and the regionalism that has gripped our State for over a decade, self-respect is an inclusive concept. He who values self-respect also recognises others’ right to respect.
NTR wasn’t a just an ordinary politician. He was one of the greatest personalities in the contemporary history of Andhra Pradesh and among the greatest leaders in India. He became known as a brilliant actor, among the best in Indian history. As a true Indian, NTR lived his life with the national pledge as inspiration.
భారతదేశం నా మాతృభూమి. భారతీయులందరు నా సహోదరులు.
[India is my motherland. All Indians are my brothers ]
Popularly called ‘Anna’ (big brother) by Telugu women and men, the Patriot in NTR lived to serve his motherland and his countrymen whom he treated like siblings. Such was his greatness that when Hon. P.V. Narasimha Rao was elected the Prime Minster of the country, he refused to field a candidate to oppose his election, in spite of the political differences.
నేను నా దేశాన్ని ప్రేమించుచున్నాను.
[I love my country deeply]
Even when his life was going through a comfortable phase, NTR perceived that the political culture in the country had become vicious due to the pettiness of the people in power. In spite of being a hugely popular actor and a successful man, he entered the rough and tumble of politics to reform the culture and serve his country. Such was his dedication to the cause that he won a state-wide election thumbs down within nine months of floating a party, the TDP, something that a lot of actors have tried recently in AP and TN, but failed.
సుసంపన్నమైన, బహువిధమైన నా దేశ వారసత్వ సంపద నాకు గర్వకారణం. దీనికి అర్హత పొందడానికి సర్వదా నేను కృషి చేస్తాను.
[My rich and varied national heritage makes me proud. I will always work to be worthy of it.]
As an administrator, he was a compassionate man. He realised the true potential of his country and the State. Due to the failed policies of the previous Governments, the rich heritage of the country was put to shame and ordinary Indians were forced into the clutches of poverty. NTR, with his rallying cry of ‘Atmagauravam’ worked tirelessly to restore the rich heritage of Telugus to its rightful place.
నా తల్లిదండ్రుల్ని, ఉపాధ్యాయుల్ని, పెద్దలందరిన్ని గౌరవిస్తాను. ప్రతివారితోను మర్యాదగా నడుచుకొంటాను.
[My parents, teachers, and elders are all honored by me. Everyone will be respected by me ]
Very few people know of NTR’s humble beginnings – a life story that is a clear example of the greatness of swatantra bharata desam. NTR was born into a farmer family – the life blood of Indian economy. He was also the embodiment of an Indian family, where each member supports the bread winner for common good – he supplied milk on his bicycle to support his family as a student. But he wasn’t just a family man. He was also a brave man who dared to dream beyond the beaten path. He pursued his passion for acting while pursuing his studies. In spite of achieving the pinnacle in both acting and politics, NTR was known to be very humble and approachable. He was known to treat all the crew in the film sets with respect. Even in the prime of his career, he would stand up out of respect when a producer entered the sets.
నా దేశంపట్ల , నా ప్రజలపట్ల సేవనిరతితో ఉంటానని ప్రతిజ్ఞ చేస్తున్నాను. వారి శ్రేయోభివృధ్ధులే నా ఆనందానికి మూలం.
[I take an oath to have a service attitude towards my country and citizens. Their welfare is my happiness ]
Such was his dedication to public service that NTR was known to wake up as early as 2 AM and be ready for work by 7 AM after practising Yoga. Not many contemporary Chief Ministers can boast of this kind of commitment to their work.
When he came to power, NTR put the welfare of people ahead of any political agenda.
- His massively popular “Rs.2 / KG rice” scheme saved many families from imminent starvation and the cruel jaws of poverty.
- He dismantled the regressive feudal system through removal of the hereditary village officer post of Karanam, Patel and Patwari. This paved way for land reforms.
- Equal right in property to the girl child and introduction of mid-day meal scheme in schools were the first of their kind and emulated later by other governments.
- He introduced prohibition of alcohol.
- He pioneered a common entrance test for Engineering and Medical streams by introducing EAMCET.
- Telugu Ganga Project, intended to irrigate lands in Rayala Seema and supplying water to Chennai was one of his greatest achievements and his affection to Indians as a whole.
Above all lies his undying belief in his capacity to fight evil and he showed the world that dynasty and hegemony can be dismantled with perseverance. He traveled a total of above 75,000 kilo meters on his Chaitanya Radham, taking bath on roadside, food at the roadside and sleeping in the bus. He eschewed the life of an aristocrat with a single minded devotion to reform the politics in AP and achieved it.
Today, Andhra Pradesh is enjoying the pride of its place in India, even though the past decade saw a deterioration in our pride. When Congress leaders are going back to their old ways of mortgaging Telugu pride on Delhi streets, it is time to rise up once again and follow the path shown by NTR.
If a man like NTR doesn’t deserve to be called ‘Bharat Ratna’, who does? Telugu Desam Party believes that it is the right time to confer Bharat Ratna on NTR, because it will remind the Telugu people of the glorious times under NTR and TDP. It will remind the Telugu People to be proud of themselves again and fight back the humiliation being meted out to them by corrupt and manipulative forces. It will unite the Telugu people irrespective of their postal address and political affiliations.
Disclaimer: This article represents the opinions of the Author, and should not be considered a reflection of the views of the Andhra Cultural Portal.